On Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted out some nasty remarks about Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
In response, Brzezinski and Scarborough blasted the president Friday morning on their show for lying, for being sexist, for being thin-skinned – the usual knocks. Along the way, they uncorked an absolute monster of a political-media story. Here’s how they put it in an op-ed for The Washington Post: “This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas,” they wrote.
More detail came out of Friday morning’s show. “We got a call that, ‘Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys.’ And . . . the president is friends with the guy that runs the National Enquirer. And they said, ‘If you call the president up, and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story,’ ” Scarborough said. “I had . . . three people at the very top of the administration calling me. The calls kept coming,” he continued, emphasizing that the Trump aides were imploring him to “please” call. Donny Deutsch, a “Morning Joe” staple, called the arrangement “blackmail.” The story derives some plausibility on account of the coziness between Trump and the National Enquirer’s publisher, David Pecker. Both men have spent years assisting each other, notes Jeffrey Toobin in a just-published New Yorker profile on this relationship. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the National Enquirer was a reliable pro-Trump voice.
There’s more: Brzezinski claimed that the National Enquirer was pestering her children in pursuit of its story on the couple. “These calls persisted for quite some time and then Joe had the conversations that he had with the White House,” said Brzezinski.
Here’s how the president responded to the allegations, tweeting:
“Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show”
And Scarborough’s reply via twitter:
“Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven’t spoken with you in many months.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Erik Wemple